Health and wellbeing has been everyone’s priority over the last year, as we donned masks and washed our hands to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, the toll on psychological health has been significant for some people as we managed our isolation and increasing levels of anxiety.
Business funding and savings platform Swoop share their top tips on how to give your business a health check, with insight from AXA Health’s mental health lead Eugene Farrell.
Datas from the Office for National statistics (ONS) show that resilience peaked last year and although reduced, it remains above the pre-pandemic level (ONS, 2021). The long term erosion of resilience may have had negative effects upon some. Other data from ONS, shows that depression levels are twice those seen a year ago, and this is a worrying sign for the future, (ONS, 2021).
Our levels of resilience have been fully tested, but hopefully, the worst of the pandemic is now behind us as the vaccine rollout continues apace, and the UK can gradually return to life which may be a new as normal.
Why having a healthy business is important
A successful business needs healthy people, positively engaged and with good mental wellbeing and resilience for the future. If we’re starting from low levels of resilience, it’s going to be an uphill struggle, so we need to check where we are at now.
As lockdown is relaxed, we may emerge into a different world, the experience of the pandemic may still overshadow some, while others will be keen to get on. This offers a good time to pause and think about the future and what you as a business leader need and what your teams need to ensure their resilience is boosted.
So check in with yourself and with your team early on, before we get back to full speed and forget to take this important measurement. If we just move on, we are potentially storing up a problem for the future.
Here are a few steps on how you can ensure you have a healthy business:
- Getting your business up to full speed again will be a priority, but be mindful that you don’t overexert yourself.
- Create some time and space away from work.
- Keep the family in mind and spend time there too.
- Exercise if you can, as that can really help, as well as spending time doing something you enjoy that's not work.
- Removing stigma and allowing people to speak up without fear is important. By signalling to your team that you want to be supportive and remain open-minded to talking about mental health it will allow them to speak up.
- Ensure you’ve checked in with the whole team to see how they are feeling and coping, and if they’re struggling ask them what would help, what you can do together.
It’s a time to keep a close eye on everyone so you can pick up on signs of struggling like behaviour change, relationship decline and a shift in mood.
The easing of restrictions is welcome news for business owners who also had to worry about the financial health of their businesses as the economy ground to an effective halt during lockdown. After spending the majority of the last 12 months in survival mode, their attention can now switch to taking part in the recovery.
If the pandemic took a toll on your business’s financial health, it could be time for a check-up on that too. Worrying about financial issues is bad for our mental wellbeing, as well as our business. One of the most vital signs is cash flow. In an ideal world, your business is cash flow positive, which means that your inflows are greater than your outflows.
However, many SMEs had to shut up shop during lockdown, while others experienced a dramatic drop in sales. Fortunately, the Chancellor spotted these symptoms and provided plenty of medicine when he announced the Budget at the beginning of March.
To start with, he extended the furlough scheme until 30th September. That’s a heavy weight off any business owners mind, although employers have to cover 20% of wages from August. Mr Sunak also continued the business rates holiday until 30th June, with a 66% discount for the rest of the year.